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Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Pea and the Moth and Dominance Displays

The big news in the outer pens is that there is a pea flower blooming. I spotted it last night.

Anyway, that's what I think the big news is. But as far as Bow is concerned, the big news, today and every day, is that he is getting bigger and stronger every single day, and he displays to show off his prowess.

This morning, while I was taking an interest in the pea flower, Bow was doing his own thing.

I am not phased by Bow's displays, no matter how magnificent. What I want to know is: what happened to the flower? Why was it so big yesterday? Why is it so much smaller today?

Is it a function of the time of day, the amount of sunlight or the presence of marauding chimpanzees? I know that flowers tend to close at night and open in the day, but do they also shrink when they sense danger? Or is this just another phase of the development of the flower, on its way to becoming a pea pod? I have no idea. Only time will tell.

I can tell you that chimpanzees puff themselves up during a display, looking much larger than they actually are, their hair standing on end. Then when the display is over, they go back to being the much smaller, sweeter creatures that we know them to be. While Bow was resting up from one of his displays, I spotted a moth in the pen.

What was the moth doing there? What was its mission? Was it confused by the conflict between the dogs and Bow? Did it get sucked into the grid of the pen by mistake? Or was it attracted by the shrunken pea flower?

The ways of nature are truly mysterious. But I can tell you this: Bow is not alone when he goes to the outer pen. There are the dogs and the pea plants, the flower and the moth to keep him company.

With so much companionship, how could anyone get lonely?


  1. I've never grown peas, so I can't say for sure. It might be because of the lack of bright sun today. Interesting though. So how much bigger will Bow get?
    And I love his displays, especially when he's playing with Leo. Looks like Leo is not at all afraid of Bow.

    1. Hi, Kathy, I think it may be, as you said, the dim light we are getting today made the flower stay closed..
      Chimpanzees can grow to be over five feet tall and weigh well over 200 pounds. Bow is not as big as some who are his own age, but I have noticed that chimpanzees tend to put on lots of extra weight if the people who feed them weigh more. So I think part is hereditary and part environmental. The wikipedia says 5 foot and one hundred and fifty pounds for a male, but I know chimps in captivity in America can weigh much more. I think I have Bow on a pretty healthy diet, so I don't expect him to ever become obese under my care.

    2. That was supposed to be five foot six on the height, as per wikipedia.

  2. I like how Bow jumps up and down, and I think he does it to make Leo happy.

    1. Hi, Julia. You are probably right. Bow and Leo are well matched in terms of their energy levels, so they make good playmates.

  3. Thanks for the information, Aya! Sounds like Bow will be as tall as an average woman, with the possibility of weighing as much as an adult man.
    I find the interactions between Bow & Leo to be very funny. They seem to have their own language.
    I noticed last night that within 5 minutes of your conversation with the lady sitting next to me that the discussion turned pretty quickly to a concern about your safety with Bow. Do you get that often? I suppose that the media has hyped up the stories about the violence with exotic animals, so I guess you are probably not surprised when you hear that.

  4. Hi, Kathy. Yes, I do think Bow and Leo understand each other.

    A concern about my safety is a recurring theme from strangers or new acquaintances ever since that incident in CT. Before that, it was different. I try to allay their fears not by sweeping everything under the rug, but by showing I have a realistic appraisal of the situation. "What if he loses his temper?" "He already has, many times. You can't imagine how upset he can be if I won't give him that extra piece of chocolate he asks for!" The idea of somebody needing to not ever lose his temper in order for a relationship to survive is part of the unrealistic way people seem to approach all relationships these days. They are so afraid of anger and seem to want everyone to sublimate it, Bow gets to express his feelings in ways that are not dangerous or destructive. He has outlets of his energy in activities like his displays with Leo.

    Sorry I missed saying goodbye to you last night. I was not sure where you were or whether you had left already.

  5. I thought you handled the question quite graciously and I think it's very kind and patient of you to educate people as you go along. In the end, that is a better approach than being offended and probably helps your cause a lot more than you realize. I admire how well you handle those questions.
    Yes, people seem afraid of getting angry with one another these days. It seems like they think, once they get angry, the relationship will be over. I see that happening a lot. I think it is unrealistic to think that people will never get angry with one another. Bob and I get angry - after 23 years together there are still things that we each do that annoys the other. But overall, I think that's how people learn to live together is by working through their issues, otherwise, we would all end up alone. Bow has every right to express himself and get upset.
    I think it's wonderful that you treat him with such respect!

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I get lots of practice with those questions.

      I think anger has been stigmatized. People will say things like "anger is not a rational emotion", as if any emotion were rational. Emotions are not tools of cognition, as Rand used to say, but they do fuel our thinking by giving us a something to think about, and by giving us the energy to follow through on our convictions. And if somebody is throwing a tantrum, the best thing to do is to move aside, let him finish, and then talk to him when he is feeling better. It works with Bow.